I received a holiday card this year which, instead of warm wishes, offered some excellent advice for 2011. The timing was perfect for me, and not just for the obvious reason that it came at the end of 2010. I opened it in December after getting home from the drug store where I was picking up a course of antibiotics for the third time that week. The first was for my daughter, the next two were for me. As I stood on the long line amidst the coughing, sneezing and complaining, I wondered two things. Which of my rotton kids misplaced my first packet of pills and who are the sadists that write for all of the health and beauty magazines? There were about ten different issues in the rack below the checkout counter — three of them were featuring, “How to look better naked!”, three headlined something like, “How to turn him on so he doesn’t leave you”, and the rest promised to make you younger and skinnier (just like the air-brushed beauty on the cover) in seven days or less. I left feeling sicker, older, chubbier and angrier — mostly at myself because I almost bought all ten. I can’t help it. The words suck me in. I want to be younger and skinnier and sexier even though it won’t make me any happier.
I know that the three men who have any chance of seeing me undress, love me despite what I critique in the mirror. My twin one year old boys have no basis for comparison so at least for the time being, I am beautiful to them. My husband has no choice since he is Catholic and promised “until death does us part” 12 years ago. So why did I almost buy those paper promises? Because I am a sucker and despite my knowing better, the ego can be a powerful thing.
Back to the holiday card with the great sense of timing. It read, “Every new year people make resolutions to change aspects of themselves they believe are negative. A majority of people revert back to how they were before and feel like failures. This year I challenge you to a new resolution. I challenge you to just be yourself.” – Aisha Elderwyn
My New Year’s resolution is to accept that challenge but strive in little ways to to be my best self more often. There are moments when I feel really good about myself, they just don’t happen often enough. I want to take the times when I am most happy, most energetic and most hopeful and Xerox them. I am going to start small. In the words of Michael Jackson, (not someone I want to emulate but the words are fitting) “I’m starting with the man in the mirror.” Well, in my case, I am starting with the aging, sagging, bloated woman in the mirror, but that is o.k. We all have to start somewhere. I am going to think globally and focus navally. The things that would make the world better can definitely work for me.
- World Peace — too tall an order but inner peace I can absolutely work on — hello prayer, meditation and yoga.
- Tolerance — I may not be able to change the opinions of others, but I can certainly work on increasing my acceptance of where I am and who I am today.
- An End to Violence – there is very little I can do to affect the anger of others but I can try to keep my road rage, my impatience and my judgements in check. I can acknowledge that gossip and critical comments are reflections of my own insecurities and that words can hurt as much as weapons. That, of course, isn’t really true — I have it on good authority that getting stabbed or shot really, really hurts — but it sounds good on paper.
- Re-prioritizing – the world is always going to judge based on appearance, and money and power will always be idolized by many, if not most. I like to look nice and I’d like to earn a few bucks but I will keep those goals in check. I don’t want my daughters to learn from me to value or envy what they see on glossy, photo-shopped covers.
- Going green – I will continue to put my plastic and glass in a separate can and turn off the lights when I leave the house. This will likely make no difference at all in the current environmental crises. I can, though, affect my own environment. I am going to do my best to recycle kindness — it is, without doubt, our most valuable commodity.
And there you have it — sorry for the sappy personal goals but, at least for the moment, I really want to achieve them. Maybe by putting them out there, I will be more accountable. New Year resolutions take a lot of heat for being worthless and short-lived but if we don’t reflect now, then when? I hope that you are choosing either no resolutions at all, or resolutions that take into consideration what will make you feel better and not just what will make you look better. I wish you a long and healthy 2011. This week, I am going to extend that to wish you a long and healthy life. YesFive will focus on longevity, at least for a few days. I am not sure that I want to live forever but if I can get my mental and physical act together, then I wouldn’t mind another forty years or so. Check in tomorrow for some secrets to living long and living well.
Happy New Year!